Posts Tagged ‘Aircraft’

The Riout 103T Alerion: The Ornithopter that Almost Took Off

January 9, 2023

I was talking on another comments thread about ornithopters with Brian Burden, one of the many great commenters on this blog. Ornithopters are flying machines that work by flapping their wings like a bird or an insect, unlike helicopters or fixed wing aircraft, which use either propeller or jet engines. Some of the very first attempts at powered, heavier than air flight were ornithopters, whose inventors obviously sought inspiration from nature. As human-carrying aircraft, they haven’t been successful. They work as small models, and the early scale models the pioneering aviation inventors and engineers created did actually work, as have more recent model ornithopters and robots modelled on birds and insects. However there were severe problems scaling them up to work with humans. This did not prevent a series of pioneering inventors and aviators trying. One of those was E.P. Frost, who created a series of ornithopters over a decade from the late 19th to the early 20th century. The piccie below shows his 1903 ornithopter, powered by a three horsepower petrol engine and with wings covered in feathers. Another inventor was the French aviator, Passat, who constructed an ornithopter with four flapping wings, covered with fabric rather than feathers, and powered by a 4.5 horsepower motorcycle engine. When it was being tried out in 1912 on Wimbledon Common, it flew for about four hundred feet at a speed of under 15 mph before crashing into a tree. This did not deter Passat, who carried on his experiments into this form of aircraft despite ridicule and the success of fixed wing aircraft.

One of the other aviation pioneers interested in developing this type of aircraft was another Frenchman, Louis Riel, who went on to design the Riout 102T plane, which at one point seemed to be a successful aircraft if further improvements had been made. I found this video about it on Ed Nash’s Military Matters channel on YouTube. This notes the similarity between the four-winged design of the Riout plane and the multi-winged ornithopters of the recent Dune film. This suggests that Frank Herbert, Dune’s author, might have been inspired by Riel’s aircraft. Riel had experimented with a two-winged ornithopter before the First World War before moving on to other projects. He retained his interest in ornithopters, however, and 1937 created the Riout 102T Alerion, which had four, fabric covered planes. Wind tunnel tests were originally promising, until an increase in engine power in one test destroyed the plane’s four wings. Riel had plans to improve and strengthen the wings, but by this time it was 1938. Hitler had annexed Austria and was moving into the Sudetenland, and France needed all its available aircraft to protect itself against German invasion. The project was therefore cancelled.

Brian wondered if computer design and control could result in a practical, human level ornithopter. I think it’s possible, especially as today’s aviation engineers are exploring the instabilities in flight that allow birds to fly so well in creating high performance aircraft, that would need a degree of computer control in flight. One of the issues looks to my like the stresses on the wings caused by flapping, but it may be that this could be solved using the more resilient and durable materials available to modern engineers, which the early pioneers didn’t have. Riel’s plane is not entirely forgotten. Its remains, minus the wings and covering, are in one of the French aviation museums. Perhaps one day they’ll inspire a new generation of engineers to experiment with similar aircraft.

Friar Roger Bacon’s Technological Prediction

December 29, 2022

Roger Bacon was a 13th century English friar and early scientist. He was an Aristotelian, but believed in experiment rather than just relying on observation and the acceptance of received opinion. He also predicted some of the inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as self-driving ships, cars and flying machines. He made these startling predictions in a letter to a William of Paris in a letter, the Epistola de Secretis Operibus of 1260. This stated

‘Now an instrument for sailing without oarsmen can be produced such that the larger ships, both riverboats and seagoing vessels, can be moved under the direction of a single man at a greater velocity than if they were filled with men. A chariot can be made that moves at unimaginable speed without horses; such we think to have been the scythe-bearing chariots with which men fought in antiquity. And an instrument for flying can be made, such that a man sits in the middle of it, turning some sort of device by which artificially constructed wings beat the air in the way a flying bird does’.

(Trans. Michael S. Mahoney, quoted in Mike Ashley, Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Classic British Science Fiction in 100 Books (London: British Library 2020) 56.

As you can see, he doesn’t know how such devices could be constructed, and his description of how an aircraft would work is wrong, although people have constructed such ornithopters. But nevertheless he was right in that science and technological has led to the invention of these kinds of machines. It also struck me that there’s material in there for SF and Fantasy writers to imagine the kind of Middle Ages that would have arisen had Bacon or his contemporaries invented such devices, or what the ancient world would have been like had Bacon been right about the technology he believed they possessed.

What If Santa Upgraded His Sleigh for a State of the Art Stealth Plane?

December 24, 2022

As it’s the Christmas season I’m planning to leaven the serious stuff on this channel with more fun material just to spread a bit more cheer around in this new Winter of Discontent. And here’s a jolly bit of fun I found on the ‘Found and Explained’ YouTube channel. It discusses what would possibly result if Santa Claus upgraded his sleigh, which is more fitted to a time before modern technology when horse-drawn carriages and sleighs were the only or main vehicles available. This was all right until the story went global and its credibility was challenged by the problem of travelling around the world, including crossing the Atlantic to North America. Hence the need to upgrade to something more modern.

The video notes the apparent similarities between the supernatural qualities of Santa’s sleigh and UFOs. However, it doesn’t actually talk about using UFO technology, which in the UFO legend is available through back engineering crashed alien space craft. No, the video instead discusses how Santa would swap his sleigh for a state of the art stealth aircraft manufactured by Lockheed at their skunkworks, but incorporating other features from autonomous drones.

Santa’s new ‘sleigh’ would be a high-performance White Star aircraft, utilising pulse jet powered by nuclear energy to achieve speeds of Mach 10 to Mach 15. There would be no windows, and instead the crew would see out using technology that turned much of the cabin into viewscreens. Santa would not be able to deliver the presents personally, except in some circumstances where the consumption of mince pies is concerned, and so would deliver his presents using drones. When he was required to make a personal appearance, the craft would use the autopilot system from another, autonomous drone. Rudolf would not be able to survive the stresses he’d experience at the front of such a high velocity vehicle, and so on the nose of the aircraft himself would be a navigation system using information from satellite position systems.

The video acknowledges that there are problems with this design. Extra space would be needed for all the presents, drones, nuclear fuel and so on. This would be solved using the technology of Santa’s bag, which like the Bag of Holding in D & D games, has ample space to contain everything required.

Expense is also a problem, even given the vast wealth Santa must have to employ his army of elves on holiday pay, plus writing it all off as charity expenses. The video suggests that this could be solved by donating one or two White Stars to the American air force, where they could be reconverted to military aircraft complete with nuclear-tipped warheads. These could also be used against naughty children. And here the video shows the Grinch being fought with explosions.

It’s a bit of seasonal fun from the channel and obviously not meant to be taken seriously. I hope you enjoy it.

Graham Hancock – A Crank, Possibly, But Definitely No Racist

December 9, 2022

My discipline, archaeology, has been massively going after Graham Hancock this week. Hancock’s ah, um,, ‘maverick thinker’, I suppose you’d say, who’s been presenting a series on Netflix arguing that thousands of years ago there was a highly advanced civilisation that perished in a cataclysm, but passed on its secrets to other ancient civilisations around the world. This has understandably annoyed archaeologists and a number have put up videos, some of them lengthy and quite detailed, disproving him. Hancock’s been promoting this idea for some time now. Going back two decades and more, he had a series on Channel 4 with the title ‘Water World’ or something like it, also arguing that there was a global advanced civilisation, whose monuments have been covered up by a flood, as recorded in the Bible and other ancient religions. Now I’m sure that Hancock is wrong, and the criticisms of his dodgy history and archaeology are right. But I take exception to one of the other accusations levelled at him, which is that he is racist.

This accusation is partly based on his false ascription of the achievements of indigenous cultures around the world to this putative prehistoric civilisation. It denies those people the credit for their achievements. But the accusation is also that it’s similar to the ideas of some bonkers White supremacist groups, who are using Hancock’s ideas to promote themselves. One archaeologist posted a video saying that Hancock should have disavowed the use of his ideas by these fascists. It also criticised him for being friends with Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson. There are fair criticisms to be made of both of these men. Peterson’s an arch-conservative and anti-feminist, but hardly a Nazi. Rogan was pushing anti-vax nonsense and is an advocate for some mind-expanding drugs. A few years ago people were accusing him of being a ‘gateway to the Alt-Right’. Possibly, but he also talks to people from the left, who are otherwise denied a platform by the lamestream media. Journalists like Abbie Martin, who talked about Israeli propaganda against the Palestinians and how she found, when she visited the beleaguered Arab nation, that the reality was nothing like the picture painted by the Israeli state. He’s also talked to biologists and journalists exposing the lies of the trans ideology. This is not Alt-Right, no matter what groups like Mermaids, Stonewall, Antifa and the rest say. The people criticising the gender ideology tend to be radical feminists, many from the socialist left. Part of their opposition against it is that it reduces masculinity and femininity to traditional, stereotypical sex roles. One of the feminist vloggers interviewed one of the leading activists against the trans ideology, who was furious that people like her were being presented as right-wing. Another feminist activist criticised Matt Walsh for misrepresenting feminists as uniformly in favour of trans ideology, and then criticising them for it. Rogan gives a voice to people outside the mainstream. Sometimes it’s rubbish, and sometimes it’s immensely valuable. He has also interviewed a number of Black celebs, so again, not a Nazi.

The White supremacist ideas being referred to seem to me to be the Traditionalist ideology of Giulio Evola. Evola was an Italian Fascist and occultist, who was a major ideological influence on the scumbuckets behind the Bologna railway bombing in the 1970s. A fascist group bombed the station, killing and maiming over a hundred people. Evola believed that there was a strongly hierarchical, ‘Aryan’ civilisation in Hyperborea in the arctic, which was responsible for all the subsequent cultural achievements of the civilisations around the world. This is twaddle. But Hancock’s ideas are also similar to those of others, which don’t come from people in the fascist fringe. A couple of years ago I picked up an old book, Colony Earth, which had been published in the 1970s. This claimed that Earth may have been an extraterrestrial colony, whose advanced civilisation was destroyed in a nuclear war. The pyramids may have been fall-out shelters, as were the megalithic tumuli in Britain. It’s an interesting read, but certainly wrong. I think Charles Berlitz, who started the Bermuda Triangle myth, also believed in this, supporting it in one of his books with artefacts from Aztec tombs that look like aircraft. Berlitz is someone else, who I’m fairly certain has absolutely no connection to fascism whatsoever.

And I don’t believe Hancock is either.

When he was travelling the world on his Channel 4 series he was accompanied by his wife, who is Sri Lankan. Now, White supremacists do not, as a rule, marry dark-skinned people from outside Europe. If they do, they’re angrily denounced as ‘race traitors’. In one edition of this earlier series, Hancock reported on the mysterious ruins of ancient city found off the coast of the Bay of Bengal. He was shown talking respectfully to an Indian gent, who told him how such findings tie in with Hindu ideas of the antiquity of civilisation and ancient Indian legends of flooded cities. Again, this isn’t quite behaviour you’d expect from a genuine White supremacist. He also travelled to South and Central America, where he proposed the old theory that the Mayans, Aztecs and other ancient Amerindian civilisations must have learned how to build their pyramids from someone else. I think this was once again ancient Egypt. But who brought that knowledge to the New World? Black Africans. He pointed to an Olmec bas relief of a warrior’s head, and declared its features to be ‘proudly African’. If this is racism, then its Afrocentrism rather than White supremacy. As for the ancient race behind these monuments, Hancock doesn’t say what colour they are. In this, he breaks with some of his predecessors, who say they must have been White because the legends of numerous Amerindian peoples state that vital parts of their culture were brought to them by White gods. Hancock is therefore less racialised in what he says than his predecessors.

I disagree profoundly with Hancock’s ideas, but he has a right to say them like everyone else. And if it piques people interest in these ancient cultures so that they want to find out what they were really like, that’s all to the good. But I do think it’s profoundly wrong to accuse him of racism. That just further cheapens the word and weakens it as a weapon against the real thing.

Video of Display of World’s First Flying Bike at Detroit Auto Show

October 9, 2022

Forgive me, dear friends, but this video comes from the Scum. I found it the other day, and although the newspaper’s a rag that should only be used to line birdcages, the video was cool. It’s of a flying bike that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show a week or so ago. Most of it is just the bike flying about, cut with its rider/pilot saying how great it was to fly. The blurb about it accompanying the footage runs:

‘The future was on full display, soaring above the ground at the Detroit Auto Show Thursday (September 15), with the world’s first flying bike making its United States debut. Japanese startup AERWINS Technologies created the XTURISMO hoverbike, a vehicle capable of flying for 40 minutes and reaching speeds of up to 62 miles per hour. “I feel like I’m literally 15 years old and I just got out of Star Wars and jumped on their bike,” said Thad Szott, co-chair of the Motor City’s auto show and one of the first Americans to take a test drive on the XTURISMO hoverbike. “I mean, it’s awesome! Of course, you have a little apprehension, but I was just so amped. I literally had goosebumps and feel like a little kid.” Shuhei Komatsu, founder and CEO of AERWINS Technologies, says the company started out making drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. The hoverbike is already on sale in Japan. Komatsu said plans are underway to sell a smaller version of the XTURISMO hoverbike in the U.S. in 2023. The estimated price for the American version is $777,000. Komatsu said the company hopes to get the cost down to $50,000 for a smaller, electric model by 2025. AERWIN technologies representatives say the company also plans to go public and will make a stock offering on the NASDAQ exchange in November.’

A few years ago, there was a piece about a similar flying bike being developed in America. This was rather different in that it seemed to have just two rotors mounted directly fore and aft, rather than four either side of the vehicle’s body. This was going to have a range of forty miles and because of some particular aspect of its design or flight, you wouldn’t need a pilot’s licence to fly one. The entrepreneur or his spokesman behind the machine promised that it would go on sale in 2017.

2017 came and went, and there was no flying bike. Now there is one, but it’s been developed by the Japanese, not Americans. And although it’s unique as a flying bike, it is one of a number of other radically different aircraft, such as the various flying cars that have been developed. I haven’t yet seen any of these go into mass production and I wonder if this will either. At the current price, it’s either going to be a rich man’s toy, or an engineering one-off, another machine that was a good idea but for various reasons never went into production.

It’s still an awesome piece of engineering though.

Steampunk Music: The Dwarven Factory

July 20, 2022

Here’s something a bit different and, hopefully, more soothing after the politics. I found a lot of Steampunk music on YouTube yesterday. Steampunk is the subgenre of Science Fiction that imagines what would have happened if the Victorians had put some of their more ambitious and far-sighted inventions into practice, and so had computers, flight, motor vehicle and space travel. It takes its inspiration from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, as well as real inventions such as Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine – a mechanical computer – and Giffard’s dirigible airship, which flew round the Eiffel Tower in 1854, as well as the futuristic drawings of the pioneering French Science Fiction writers and artist, Jacques Robida. Notable books include William Gibson’s and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine, about a Victorian future in which Lord Byron is now king and Babbage’s Difference Engine is a reality. It’s also produced a milieu of fans, who design and wear clothing based on these futures that never were, and build mock-Victorian technological props, like ray guns. One of the most popular fashion accessories is suitably elaborate, 19th century-style futuristic goggles.

But there are also composers producing works inspired by this type of SF. This seems to be orchestral, but with the addition of synthesisers and other electronic effects, often with an underlying ticking of clockwork or a beat suggesting this or the rhythm of the heavy industrial machines of the period. Its composers include Peter Crowley, who also produces more traditional fantasy music, Landon Zientara, and Shannon Chiang. I’m delighted that someone is still producing music in the classical idiom, and some of these pieces sound like the scores for SF and Fantasy films that were never made. Here’s one piece of Steampunk music, The Dwarven Factory.

The Silent Drone That Flies Using Ionic Thrust

March 11, 2022

This is awesome. I found this fascinating little video on the YouTube channel of the Roswell Flight Test Crew, whose name seems to suggest that they’re a group into weird aviation technology, just like whatever it was that came down on Mac Brazel’s ranch in Roswell in 1947. In this video they’re at the UAV expo in Florida, talking to Tomas Pribanec, the CEO of a new start-up company, Undefined Technology. Pribanic and his team have created a drone that flies without any propellers, or indeed, it seems, wings or any conventional aircraft parts. It looks a bit like a Borg cube that’s been made out of wire. The machine flies using electricity to attract and repel the ions, the charged particles already present in the atmosphere. At the moment it can only fly for 15 minutes carrying a 2 pound payload, but it has the advantage of being silent. This has made it attractive to a number of other companies, according to Pribanic. Ion engines, which create thrust by generating charged particles, are already used in spacecraft, but it’s unusual to see the principle used on Earth. The blurb for the video on the Roswell Crew’s YouTube page runs

’22 Sept 2021 • In this episode, the Roswell Flight Test Crew speaks with Tomas Pribanic, the founder and CEO of Undefined Technology, based in south Florida. The company has built a prototype drone of approximately the same dimensions and configuration as a conventional multirotor – but without propellers. Instead, it uses charged ions that exist in the atmosphere and attracts or repels those ions as needed to develop thrust and maneuver. The prototype is five-foot square, capable of flying up to 15 minutes while carrying a two-pound payload. Owing to the lack of propellers, the aircraft is virtually silent in flight, making it a good candidate for cargo delivery and other missions in the urban environment where noise can be an issue.’

I think the technology has been around for a little while as there are a number of videos also on YouTube showing people, who’ve built their own. There was also a piece of news a year or so ago about a research group, who had incorporated it into a plane to demonstrate that it could be used to create more fuel efficient aircraft. They took their inspiration from Star Trek’s shuttlecraft and the way they flew without any moving parts.

This is next level technology very much like something out of science fiction, and I look forward to it being developed further.

China Reinforcing Army with War Robots Along Border with India

January 1, 2022

More robot news, but this time it’s really sinister with very grave implications not just for the Indo-Chinese region, but for the survival of the human race. Because the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has just posted military robots along the Tibet border to reinforce its human personnel.

This chilling video comes from Gravitas, part of the WION, World Is One network. I started getting their reports on YouTube on my mobile. I don’t know who WION is, but the accent and the concentration on south Asia, India, Pakistan and the surrounding countries, suggests that they’re Indian. They’re interesting, as they present the news from a different national perspective. Nearly a week ago they posted a report about a special forces unit in the American army in Syria acting as a death squad through drone strikes that also killed innocent civilians as well as soldiers. It’s the kind of news al-Jazeera reports, and gets labelled as Islamist propaganda by an outraged American right for doing so. There were calls a few years ago to ban al-Jazeera in America, and I wonder how long WION and Gravitas will go on before they’re faced with similar opposition.

According to this report, China has stationed 88 ‘Sharp Claws’ war robots and 120 ‘Mule-200’ robots along the frontier. The human soldiers had trouble adjusting to the high altitude in Tibet. The Sharp Claws are true robot weapons. They consist of a machine gun mounted on tank tracks with a camera so they can see where they’re going. At the moment they’re operated remotely by a soldier, but Beijing would like to make them autonomous. The Mule 200s are transport vehicles intended to carry supplies like ammunition. Beijing is also keen to develop other autonomous robots. The army wants to develop land-based robots, the navy robot subs and their air force intelligent drones. The Chinese government roped a number of private firms into developing them, including TenCent, Waowei, and at least three others, who were all declared robot champions. The UN is concerned about the increasing use of autonomous robots, and tried to set up an international treaty to restrict them. But this failed due to lack of support from the main countries producing them, a tactic that has worked to Beijing’s advantage.

Back in the ’90s many scientists were extremely worried about the real possibility of a robot takeover. Kevin Warwick, the robotics professor at Reading University, begins his book March of the Machines, with a description of life in 2050. The machines really have taken over. Humanity has been largely wiped out, and the remaining humans are lobotomised, neutered slaves used by the machines for work in environments they cannot operate in, and in fighting those human communities that have remained free. When one company reported they were developing war robots for real, they were met with an angry response from many leading scientists telling them not to, because it would pose a real threat to the human race. Warwick was deeply depressed at the threat, and only recovered through exploring the possibility of augmenting humanity through cyborgisation. A few months ago Panorama posted a documentary, ‘Are You Worried Yet, Human?’, about China’s use of robotics and AI to control and monitor its population. And in one test, warplanes were remotely piloted, not by humans, but by a computer. This successfully shot down a piloted warplane.

This looks all too much like the scenario behind the Terminator movies, and we’re in big trouble if someone develops something like Skynet for real. As Isaac Arthur says in a video about robot rebellion in one of his Science and Futurism videos, ‘Keep them stupid, keep them dumb, else you’re under Skynet’s thumb’. Quite.

We don’t need these machines. They are a real threat to the human race. Robots operate through machine logic and programming. They don’t have the moral judgement of humans, although there has been precious little of that shown in wars. And perhaps this is why China, a totalitarian state committing genocide against the Uighurs in Sinjiang, is using them.

If we must have war robots, let them be moral, intelligent, humanoid machines like Hammerstein of the long-running 2000AD strip, ‘ABC Warriors’. A robot soldier, who fights for peace, democracy and justice against the tyrants of Earth and Mars. We need robot soldiers like him, not automatic mechanical killers, and far fewer wars and conflicts.

As Hammerstein says in the comics ‘Increase the peace’. Until we have robot warriors like him, the UN is right. Autonomous war robots need to be strictly controlled, no matter who has them.

The Messerschmidt 109 Variant that Served the Israeli Airforce During the 1948 War of Independence

January 1, 2022

This should blow a few Zionist minds, ’cause it certainly boggled mine. I found this video on the Rex’s Hanger channel on YouTube. This is about the history of aviation and some of the remarkable planes in it. And it’s about how the Israeli air force started out during the 1948 war against the British and Arabs with a variant of the German Messerschmidt 109 used in the Second World War. This was the Avia S.199. It was created by the Czechoslovaks in the Avia works, which had been used by the Nazis to produce Messerschmidts during the country’s occupation.

Czechoslovakia had a tradition of technical excellence and the Nazis had been particularly keen to control the Skoda works. The country had the strategic advantage of being out of range of allied aircraft, and so some arms production was relocated there. Messerschmidts and Messerschmidt variants were continued to be made under license after the War. Unfortunately the aircraft’s engines were destroyed during a fire, leaving Avia with only the airframes. Faced with scrapping those or trying to salvage something from the wreckage, Avia responded by giving them the only engines they had available, which were for Heinkel bombers. These were too powerful for the planes. There was a marked tendency to veer left, and planes frequently flipped over, so that the ground crew tasked with retrieving them frequently carried long poles with which to flip them back onto their undercarriage. One pilot, demonstrating the aircraft, narrowly avoided colliding with the works’ buildings and surrounding fence when his plane veered towards them while taxiing. He managed to get it to jump the fence to the amazement of onlookers.

When Israel rebelled against the British mandate in 1948, they were desperate to acquire planes. The Americans had a policy of strict neutrality, while the British were supplying the Arabs with surplus Spitfires. The Israelis were forced to turn to the Czechoslovaks, who drove a very hard bargain. The video says that they were charged $144,000 for each aircraft, a piece of massive overpricing when a surplus Spitfire could be had for $6,000. The aircraft also needed to be straightened out and their technical problems solved and the Israeli pilots properly trained. But there was no time. The war broke out before this could be done, and so the planes and their half-trained crew had to go to Israel. Many Israelis were naturally uncomfortable with using planes based on Nazi aircraft, but they really didn’t have any choice. The technical problems continued resulting in poor performance against the Arabs. Two aircraft were lost, probably due to the cowl mounted guns not being properly synchronised with the propellers, so that instead of shooting through them, the pilots shot them off instead. As a result the pilots only used the wing cannons. However, the aircraft began to make headway against the Arabs and bought the Israelis time to get better aircraft, and help turn the tide against the Arabs.

There’s an irony here. Despite the lies of official Israeli history, the Israeli revolt resulted in the massacres of Arab communities up and down Palestine. This included worshippers sheltering in mosques, and women bringing out peace gifts of baskets of rice. Israeli policy towards the country’s indigenous Arabs since then has been one of segregation and ethnic cleansing. But you’re an evil anti-Semite if you dare to mention this, let alone protest against it. Even if, or especially if, you’re Jewish. This is despite one Israeli general rhetorically asking why it should only be the Jews, who suffered genocides.

Under the I.H.R.A. definition, it is anti-Semitic to call a Jew a Nazi. In the normal run of things, I’d say that was right. It is at least grossly tasteless and offensive. But the Israeli state’s policy towards the Arabs, as Tony Greenstein has pointed out, strongly resembles the Nazi persecution of the Jews up to 1942. And I believe it also resembles the Nazi occupation of Poland, Ukraine and Russia, and the Italian Fascist colonisation of Tripolitania.

There is therefor a certain symbolic irony that these comparisons are explicit in the Israeli air forces use of what was basically a Nazi warplane.

Nigeria in Moves to Develop Its Own Helicopter

December 17, 2021

Here’s an interesting little snippet of news from the Inter Vlog channel on YouTube. It seems that Nigeria’s National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, NASENI, in conjunction with the country’s aviation authority, is currently in moves to produce a made-in-Nigeria helicopter. The aim is to purchase a Belgian Dynali helicopter and back-engineer it, using Nigerian engineers trained at the Dynali works in Belgium. However, they are seeking to licence the helicopter, so it won’t quite be an illegal Third World knock-off. The Dynali helicopter was chosen because it’s easy to back-engineer, and the projected, Nigerian machine will be a sports helicopter.

This is interesting as Africa is possibly the last place anyone would think of for technological innovation and development. I was taught at school that the continent, and indeed the rest of the Developing World, was prevented from industrialising through the trade treaties set up during decolonisation. Britain and the rest of the developed world wished to protect their manufacturing industries while having access to the raw materials of Africa and the rest of the Third World. They therefore set up tariff barriers against manufactured goods from these countries while establishing treaties that kept Africa and other countries primarily as exporters of agricultural goods and raw materials, like copper. This system, dubbed neocolonialism by the Norwegian economist Gunnar Myrdal, has kept Africa and the rest of the Third World poor. This seems to be changing. Looking through YouTube for this, I found another video on the development of a bus by Uganda and another video showing off the planes, helicopters and drones individual Nigerians had built. There clearly is a lot of intellectual potential in Africa waiting to be tapped. I also heard at school that Nigeria, with its vast oil reserves, could be the world’s wealthiest country if it weren’t for the massive corruption. This also makes me wonder if Nigeria is now where India was a few decades ago in its industrialisation, and, also like India, will be a rising economic force in a few decades time. If that happens, then it could have a devastating effect on a number of economies around the world as they are undercut by cheaper, African-made goods.

I’ve a particular interest in this as Bristol and the south-west were a centre of the British helicopter industry with Westland Helicopters. They fell into financial trouble in the 1980s, and Maggie sold them off to the Americans because of pressure from the American government.

Thus she destroyed another part of our manufacturing and technological sector all to keep in with Reagan.